Inter Milan players looking to cap perfect season

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Inter Milan has already had an extraordinary season and many of its players could be celebrating even more by July 11.

The Italian club has 10 players at the World Cup and they are in line for a clean sweep of all major trophies if they win next month's final at Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium.

Inter Milan won every competition it entered in the 2009-2010 season. It collected the Champions League, the Italian league title and the Italian Cup.

A World Cup title for any of the Inter players would cap what is effectively a perfect period in their careers.

"It's been a wonderful year for all of us at Inter," Brazil right back Maicon said. "Now everyone here wants to finish the season in style with the national team.

"I just hope we are the ones lifting the trophy with Brazil when it's all over."

Brazil is the nation with most Inter Milan players: Maicon, defender Lucio and goalkeeper Julio Cesar.

"I've been having a sensational season," Cesar said. "And the World Cup is the climax, it's what every player has been dreaming about."

The other nation with multiple Inter players at the World Cup is Argentina, with Walter Samuel and Diego Milito, who scored both goals when Inter beat Bayern Munich 2-0 in the Champions League final last month in Madrid.

Argentina coach Diego Maradona left Inter stalwarts Javier Zanetti and Esteban Cambiasso off his squad. But other Inter Milan players at the first World Cup staged in Africa are Cameroon's Samuel Eto'o, Serbia's Dejan Stankovic, Slovenia's Rene Krhin, Ghana's Sulley Muntari and the Netherlands' Wesley Sneijder.

"I'm still hungry. I want more," Sneijder said after joining up with the Dutch squad. "This World Cup is where we have to show what we can do. And I think we can do it."

Barcelona had won the Champions League ahead of the 2006 World Cup in Germany, but it did not do as well as Inter in all its other tournaments. Italy won that World Cup, but there were no Barcelona players on the Italian squad.

Inter Milan and Bayern Munich players were some of the few who didn't have to report to their national teams right away because the Champions League final took place on May 22.

Barcelona and Chelsea are the teams with the most players at the World Cup, 13 each, followed by Liverpool with 12 and Bayern Munich and Arsenal with 11.

Chelsea initially had 17 players set to play, but injuries to John Obi Mikel of Nigeria, Michael Ballack of Germany and Michael Essien of Ghana reduced the list. Ivory Coast's Didier Drogba is also hurt but hopes to play.

Real Madrid and Greece's Panathinaikos supplied 10 players each.

The heavy majority of players are coming from English teams, followed by clubs in Germany and Italy.

Even if Inter players take the World Cup title, their year won't be done; they will still be able to win FIFA's club world championship or be picked as FIFA's world player of the year.

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Associated Press Writer Mike Corder in Amsterdam contributed to this report.